Every burned town is tragic. But Newsom needs to lead with science, not sentiment.
California Governor Gavin Newsom was in the Golden State for the first time this week, with a stop in the town of Pismo Beach to present his new State of the State address.
Newsom delivered his speech to a packed house at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, where he outlined his priorities for the state in three broad areas: “Health,” “Labor” and “Environment”. Many of the issues he touched on relate to addressing climate change, which he says is the biggest challenge facing California.
But his remarks also touched on other subjects, including his decision to remove Santa Barbara from the list of California cities that will participate in an urban water supply project, and his support of a measure that would let Californians build their own prison.
Newsom spoke to the press after his speech in Pismo Beach, and I reached out to him for comment. I wanted to know what he thought about the Pismo Beach town’s proposal to build a prison on its waterfront.
The state’s top official on the environment, the governor said he was “not sure about the wisdom of proposing to build a prison on the waterfront … the question is whether it’s a wise use of taxpayer dollars. I’m a big fan of the project, but I have not been entirely convinced.”
However, Newsom was not entirely convinced by the Pismo Beach prison plan either. He said he thinks “the project has been proposed without sufficient justification”. He also says that should it pass, the state will have to make some kind of financial contribution to help pay for it.
Newsom’s comments on the Pismo Beach prison were not surprising, given that he is the head of the California Department of Health Care Services. The agency oversees almost half the cost of the state’s health care system, and is the largest purchaser of health care for the state.
The governor is also the head of the California Public Utilities Commission. The commission is responsible for a large share of the state’s wholesale electricity market (as well as wholesale electricity prices and the costs of certain other state energy